Beth Terry, My Plastic Free Life

Meet Beth Terry, the brains behind the blog, My Plastic Free Life. Inspired by a dramatic photo of a dead sea bird whose insides were riddled with plastic, Terry was spurred into action to eliminate her personal plastic use.

My Plastic Free Life is an often funny and always inspiring blog where Beth documents her journey towards eliminating plastic from her life. Is that even possible in our current society? Read her blog to find out! All her acquired knowledge is the basis for her book Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and You Can Too.

My Plastic Free Life by Beth Terry
My Plastic Free Life by Beth Terry. Photo Credit: Skyhorse Publishing

I had the pleasure of meeting Beth at a blogging conference several years ago. She even brought her own stainless steel wine glass to a conference party (she just simply pulled it out of her bag). More recently, I had the pleasure of talking with her on the phone about the release of her book in paperback, updates to it, and my burning questions about plastic use.

So here we go…

1. What kind of updates and new sections can readers of the new edition of Plastic Free expect?

Things are changing rapidly. There are many new plastic-free solutions that I share in this edition — lots of new resources are included. There is new information about sunscreen as well. There is also a new chapter with an international section about important environmental bloggers from all over the world. This section includes many international resources as well. A new forward will be written by famous musician and environmental activist Jack Johnson and his wife.

I’ve also changed my mind on a few issues. There was a company that was claiming to be environmentally responsible but was not and was, in fact, increasing plastic waste. Since the publication of the first book, this company met with a nonprofit organization and improved its product in terms of using less plastic. This section has been revised as have a few others to include the newest information about how to be plastic-free.

Beth Terry, My Plastic Free Life

2. If you had to give readers one main tip for reducing plastic, what would it be?

Reduce waste. People think that recycling plastic is the magic bullet. Some may not realize that not all plastics get recycled. It is a business. If there is no buyer, then the plastic is not recycled. I gave a speech in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I called the municipal waste company before my speech to see about their recycling rates. They said they only recycle 1 and 2-labeled plastics and incinerate the rest. The audience was shocked. They had been faithfully recycling all plastics. Be proactive. Investigate what others are saying they are doing. Educate yourself on what can and can’t be recycled in your area. Don’t be afraid to call your waste company! Remember that recycling is the last of the Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle.

3. The holidays come with so much waste. What are your tips for reducing waste during the holidays (and always)?

First, reduce consumption. Give experiences instead of stuff. Give gift cards on paper. If you have something shipped, ask them to ship it without plastic. Buy from Etsy sellers. Homemade, handcrafted, and unique. Ask them to ship your order with no plastic or Styrofoam.

Consider reusable wrapping. Give a nice reusable bag with your gift. For parties, avoid disposable cutlery. Bring a mug and a plate. Beware of compostable utensils and dinnerware. They don’t break down in most industrial composts.

And that red solo cup? It is the same plastic as Styrofoam! It crumbles into the environment and contains styrene, a known carcinogen, which then leaches into the liquid drink.

One great idea is to create a bin or basket of old thrift store silverware, plates, and cups. Give it to the next person having a party– so it travels around social circles. Friends can bring the basket when they come to the party and then– no waste!

4. One vexing issue for me in waste reduction is deodorant and toothpaste. How do you handle these challenges?

I’ve tried many things to replace toothpaste tubes, including Toothy Tabs which foam up in your mouth and make a paste for brushing. They have many flavors. I also have mixed baking soda with essential oils with some good results. I have even tried Aquarians Bath tooth powder which comes in a metal tin. They have activated charcoal in them and actually turn teeth black for a moment and then my teeth feel super clean (and are no longer black)!

As for deodorant, every body is different. Taylor’s Natural makes a natural deodorant that works well and comes in glass jars or spray bottles. Aquarian Bath also makes some — as do Etsy sellers. But for me, brushing on baking soda with tea tree oil works really well. Put some baking soda in a tin with a little tea tree oil. Apply the mixture with a powder puff and you won’t smell!

Thanks to Beth Terry for creating an exhaustive book on how everyone can lessen their use of plastic, one step at a time. No matter where you are, Plastic Free Life: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and You Can Too will help you use less plastic and feel empowered by doing so.

By Katy Farber

Katy Farber is a teacher, author, blogger from Vermont. She’s currently a teacher in Central Vermont and writes about education, parenting, the environment and sustainability for various websites and publications. Farber is the author of several books including 'Eat Non-Toxic: A Manual For Busy Parents'.